This month Bulgaria marks 135 years since the birth of the renowned sculptor Andrey Nikolov. He is one of those masters of Bulgarian art, who has left behind landmark works. Moreover, his works can be compared to the best examples of European sculpture from the 20th century.
He was born in the town of Vratsa, the son of a poor shoemaker. He attended the first class of the State Drawing School, which opened in 1896. He graduated in sculpture in 1903. Also in the same year, on the recommendation of his teacher, Boris Schatz, he went on to continue his education in Paris. There four years he studied under the guidance of famous sculptor Antonin Mercie in the Academy of Fine Arts (Ecole des Beaux-Arts). At that time different trends in sculpure were competing in Paris but Andrei Nikolov tried to find his own unique way. His talent did not remain unnoticed and his works took part in the annual Salon de Paris. “Bulgaria is small for this artist,” Rodin himself would say about Andrey Nikolov.
After returning home, Andrey Nikolov created a unique monument, which today is located in the square downtown Vidin. Townspeople call it “the grieving warrior.” It is dedicated to the victims in the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885. An English journalist who visited Vidin, wrote in this connection: "Bulgaria has a monument of victory like no other in Europe. The dying grenadier, despite being a winner, is plunged into grief because of this brother-killing war. Bulgarians are only capable of such attitude.”
In the period 1910-14 Andrey Nikolov was a lecturer at what is now the National Art Academy in Sofia. In 1914, the sculptor was sent to Rome to oversee the preparation of plates used for making stamps for the Bulgarian state. The sculptor was in Rome when the First World War broke out and he remained in the city until 1927. As stated by art historian Dr. Nicholai Boshev, in numerous exhibitions Nikolov’s works enjoyed the special attention of the public and Italian critics find the perfection of his sculpures typical of the true grand masters of art.
In 1927 Andrey Nikolov returned to Bulgaria. From 1931 to 1940, he was a professor at the Art Academy and in 1937 he bacame its rector. The sculptor died in 1959, leaving behind a rich art heritage. He is the creator of a number of sculptures of Bulgarian writers like Ivan Vazov, Luben Karavelov, Petko and Pencho Slaveikovs, Elin Pelin, Kiril Hristov… Andrey Nikolov is the author of the impressive bronze lion that stands at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Sofia. Today, his home art studio in the capital city is actually the "Red House" Centre for Culture and Debate. It has on a display a permanent exhibition of works by Andrei Nikolov, entitled "Spirit meets the body."
English version: Alexander Markov
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